Recently, an advisory committee of 20 nationally recognized scientific experts recommended a change to the federal dietary guidelines for alcohol consumption, with a reduced limit for men who drink alcohol. from two drinks per day to one drink per day. Recommendations are driven by strong evidence. Even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with significant health risks, and the experts report explains why.
These experts are not thinkers. Indeed, they are all appointed by the Trump administration. However, the wine industry and its allies have attempted to caricature the committee members “nanny state officials”. And with the help of a lobbying budget in excess of $ 27 million, Big Alcohol enlisted the support of congressional representatives in second guessing the commission̵7;s recommendations.
Federal officials should hold their ground and include experts’ recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The predominance of scientific and medical knowledge – the legally regulated basis for the dietary guidelines – makes it clear that the recommendations reflect current science best.
US researchers now estimate that drinking alcohol is the third most important cause of cancer under one’s control, after smoking and obesity. Each year, drinking alcohol causes more deaths from cancer than from exposure to UV radiation. In fact, drinking alcohol increases the risk of at least six types of cancer.
Cancer risk increases with greater consumption, but an established and growing research body shows that even drinking “light” alcohol – less than a drink a day – causes cancer. Cancer, with the rates of cancers of the breast, oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus, among others, increased significantly in those who drank mildly. With the exception of breast cancer, cancers known to be caused by alcohol consumption – stomach, esophagus, head and neck, colorectal and liver – are much more common in men, suggesting that men need special cuts. .
Conversely, earlier claims that moderate alcohol consumption offers health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, have not aged. For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now states on its website: “While some studies have found improved health results in moderate drinkers, concludes whether these improvements were due to moderate alcohol consumption or other behavioral or genetic differences between those who drank moderately and those who did not. The availability of large potential cohort studies and the advent of full genome sequencing technology have allowed researchers to ignore some of the confounding factors that have hindered previous studies. Therefore, and the results of this “genetic epidemiological” further raise doubt about the purported protective effect of moderate oral administration.
All of this to say that the evidence in favor of moderate alcohol consumption improves cardiovascular health is highly questionable, while the scientific evidence regarding alcohol consumption with cancer is well-established and dated. increase. Reputable cancer organizations, including the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society, recommend not drinking alcohol to reduce cancer risk. The federal dietary guidelines should also advise consumers that drinking alcohol does not improve health, and if they drink alcohol, encourage them to drink as little as possible.
Would the proposed modest changes to the Diet Principles have a significant impact? Millions of men in the US now regularly drink in excess of the two-drink limit, first outlined in the 1990 guidelines. But the guidelines are really important. They must, by law, be promoted by all federal government food and nutrition policies and programs, and are often used by private and nonprofit organizations. .
For decades, alcohol was considered a part of a healthy diet, with any adverse effects limited to alcohol drinkers and drinkers. This portrayal has been so successful that most consumers in the United States remain unaware of the link between alcohol use and cancer; A recent survey by the American Institute of Cancer Research found that less than half of US consumers identify alcohol as a cancer risk factor. For the sake of our collective health, that needs to change. The Diet Principles can be helpful, as long as they are driven by science and not company influence.
Thomas Gremillion is the director of Food Policy at the American Consumer Federation. Nigel Brockton, Ph.D., is research vice president at the American Institute for Cancer Research.